Feature Article

Audubon Treats Los Angeles to a New Kind of Nature Center

The first LEED v2 Platinum building in the U.S. is off-the-grid, treating its own wastewater and making its own electricity, despite being just ten minutes from downtown Los Angeles.

February 1, 2004

The Audubon Center at Debs Park outside Los Angeles has earned a Platinum rating under version 2 of the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED® Rating System. When the certification was announced in December 2003, the Audubon Center became the first building in the U.S.—and the second in the world (see EBN Vol. 12, No. 12)—to achieve this distinction. The Center is expected to use 70% less water than a conventional facility—and treat all of its wastewater on-site. It is expected to use only 5 kWh/ft2 (54 kWh/m2) of energy each year—and generate all of it on-site. More than 50% of the building materials were manufactured locally, and more than 97% of the construction debris was reused or recycled.

The 5,000 ft 2 (465 m2) single-story building, designed by Esherick Homsey Dodge & Davis (EHDD) of San Francisco, is the product of over six years of intensive community outreach, planning, and construction, and it represents a new philosophy for Audubon. To further its work conserving and restoring natural ecosystems, the nonprofit organization is aiming to foster passion for the natural world from within “urban and underserved areas,” according to Audubon, “where quality experiences in nature can be hard to come by.” The Audubon Center at Debs Park is located just ten minutes from downtown Los Angeles, along one of the busiest highways in the city; over 50,000 children, most of them Latino, live within two miles (3 km) of the Center.